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PCPs Order More Food Allergen Panels Than Allergists

Also order more tests for uncommon causes of food allergy and generate higher costs

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THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Primary care providers (PCPs) order significantly more food allergen panels and generate higher costs per patient than allergists, according to a review published online Nov. 30 in Pediatrics.

David R. Stukus, M.D., from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, and colleagues conducted a retrospective review of food allergen immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests ordered by all provider types during 2013.

The researchers found that 10,794 single-food IgE tests and 3,065 allergen panels were ordered during 2013. Most single-food IgE tests (58.2 percent) were ordered by allergists, while PCPs ordered 78.8 percent of food allergen panels (P < 0.001). Of all PCP-ordered IgE tests, 45.1 percent were panels compared with 1.2 percent of allergist-placed orders (P < 0.001). Compared to PCPs with less experience, PCPs in practice for >15 years ordered a higher number of food allergen panels (P < 0.05). PCPs ordered more tests for unlikely causes of food allergies than allergists (P < 0.001). PCPs had higher total cost of IgE testing and cost per patient than allergists.

"These results suggest a need for increased education of PCPs regarding proper use of food IgE tests," the authors write.

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